Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pastor's Bookshelf: A Praying Life by Paul E Miller

Well, I must admit I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped.  The book started very strongly, Miller does a great job of just being real and admitting to struggles that we all feel with prayer.  After all, we are a broken and sinful people and for Christians we hate the sin that dwells within us that constantly gets at us to sin, even in the neglect of prayer.

Then he moved into the way in which we ought to pray.  It was here that I would have to, at least partially, disagree with him.  He makes a point about how we are to pray humbly, and how we are to have faith like that of a child.  I completely agree with that 100%.  However, he then continues driving that point on to infer that there is no real structure that is necessarily important in our prayers.

Now, let me say that in principle I agree with this.  In principle, there are no exact words or special phrases that we can pray that bring a miracle.  Rather it is the heart behind the prayer that God is most concerned with.  After all, Paul does say that we don't know how to pray as we ought but that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27).  Further we know that what God desires is not empty sacrifice or empty words (Isaiah 1:10-15) but rather a broken heart and contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17).  So in that respect I completely agree with Paul.  Please hear me, we don't have to have big fancy words or methods in our prayers. 

However, I reject the idea that there is no guidelines or prescriptions for prayer offered in Scripture.  Case in point would of course be the aptly named, Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:6-14.  Now, in fairness, Miller doesn't outright suggest that there is no guideline, however, in my opinion (whatever that is worth) he pushes the issue of a childlike prayer too far and in doing so implies what I've suggested as the problem with this part of the book.

For a more thorough handling of the subject of prayer, there are several books I would sooner recommend to you (and would be glad too if you wish to email me and request those titles).  Having said that, it is a good read and probably worth your time, just be discerning about it.


  1. I would like to read your recommendations if you could email me at I was just looking at this book on Amazon deciding if I want to purchase it. Thanks

  2. Can you tell the other books you recommend regarding prayer?

    1. The top 2 recommendations I would have would be
      "Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer" by Mike Sarkissian
      and "A Call to Prayer" by JC Ryle